Roy Lassiter’s imprint on North Carolina and U.S. soccer will be difficult to match for many years.
Roy Lassiter’s imprint on North Carolina and U.S. soccer will be difficult to match for many years. Remembered as one of the fastest players in the state in high school, he led Athens Drive HS as its captain to the 4-A state championship in his senior year and was named the 1988 North Carolina H.S. Player of the Year and a member of the Gatorade Circle All-America team. After high school, he led Lees-McRae College as team captain to the 1990 National Junior College Athletic Association Men’s Championship and was named to the NJCAA 1st Team All-America.
After leaving Lees-McRae, Roy played for two years at North Carolina State University. He again distinguished himself, being chosen to 1st Team All-ACC Conference in 1990 as the league’s leading scorer, to the All-ACC Tournament Team and to the All-American team. NC State won the ACC Championship in Roy’s first year and advanced to the Final Four before falling to eventual national champion UCLA on penalty kicks. In that year, Roy scored 22 goals in 23 games. He was named to the NSCAA All-South team both years that he was at NC State, 1990 and 1991.
Roy’s contributions as a player at his alma mater were later recognized when he was selected to the Atlantic Coast Conference Golden Anniversary Team for men’s soccer as one of the top 50 players during the league’s first 50 years. In the August 2002 announcement by the ACC, Roy was cited as having compiled 40 points as a senior, the fourth best scoring season in the NC State record books.
Roy aspired to play soccer professionally after graduating from college. He was invited to try out for the US National Team but during one of the earliest practices his left ankle was broken because of a hard tackle. The injury appeared to end his prospects with the team. Undaunted, he looked for opportunities elsewhere. After his ankle mended, he left the country to play soccer and was given a chance in Costa Rica, where he played in consecutive years for three different First Division teams between 1992 and 1995. Roy led the last of the three teams with 17 goals and the team finished its season in second place. Based on his significant contributions, Roy was named the league’s “Foreigner of the Year,” an accolade which again drew the attention of U.S. National Team coaches. Given the opportunity to play on the team, he made the most of it, scoring the game-winning goal for the U.S. in a match against Saudi Arabia.
Roy was signed in 1996 as one of the first players to join Major League Soccer and was allocated by the league to the Tampa Bay Mutiny. He led the MLS in scoring in his first year with 27 goals and was awarded the league’s Golden Boot as the league’s top scorer. That MLS single-season record still stands. After a brief period on loan with the Italian club Genoa, Roy was signed by the Mutiny to a 3-year contract. With 37 goals, Roy stands as the all-time leading scorer of the Mutiny, which ceased operation in 2001. In 1998, he was traded to D.C. United, a move that benefited both Roy and the team. He scored in 12 of the team’s first 15 games. Roy became the all-time leading goal scorer in the MLS in 1996 and held that position until his record was broken in 2004 by Jason Kreis. As of July 2010, he still ranked at # 8. Through October 2010, with 13 goals he ranked third all-time for playoff goals scored.
D.C. United had won the MLS Cup in 1997 and, as MLS champion, in 1998 played in the CONCACAF Champions Cup in addition to its regular MLS league games. The team became the first U.S. club to ever win the CONCACAF Championship Cup and Roy was named MVP of the championship. Leading the MLS in scoring for 8 years straight, 1996-2003, Roy was voted to the MLS All-Star Team three times (1996,1998 and 1999). He appeared in three MLS All-Star games and was named to the AT&T “Best 11” Team after the 1996 season. Roy was inducted into the DC United Hall of Fame in 2010. In addition, he appeared in 32 international matches and scored 4 goals with the US Men’s National Team. In 1996, he was a Honda Player of the Year Finalist.
After his playing years ended, Roy maintained his devotion to soccer, first in Virginia in 2003 as a player/coach of the Beach Mariners (USL-Professional) and then in Texas for 5 years, where he served in a variety of club coaching and director positions, including as Director of Boys Austin United Capitals SC. In 2008, he moved to San Diego, CA, to become the Director of the Albion Soccer Club.
Roy was born in Washington, D.C, on March 9, 1969, to Roy and Jeannette Lassiter. He and his wife, Wendy, have two children, Ariel and Isabella. Roy’s brother, Arick, a standout player in his own right, is the head soccer coach at Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, TX.